Seventeen-year-old Mbulelo Mtselu and his friends hang out in Braamfontein often. Last month, when one of his friends suggested that they visit DipStreet, a premium sneaker and streetwear store in the heart of Braamfontein, it seemed like just another day out with his boys.
But when they got to the store, they found rapper Riky Rick shopping with a few of his friends. Big fans of the rapper, they approached him and asked to take some pics with him, Mtselu explains.
While they were doing so, Riky, who’s known for his bold sense of style, spotted Mtselu’s shoes – a pair of Balenciaga’s (Balenciaga is a Spanish luxury fashion house which is very popular in the hip hop culture).
“He looked at me, then he looked at my shoes. Then I was like, ‘At least I’m trying’. Then he was like, ‘Don’t let me start bro’. Then he goes to his friends and he’s like, ‘Tell your boy that his Balenciaga’s ain’t working.’ And they all started laughing and I just tried to keep my cool, but it was hard.”
With his friends around and everyone staring at him, Mtshelu says he felt deeply humiliated and didn’t know what to do.
Riky then turned to one of his friends and asked him to start recording. On the recording, which has since gone viral, Riky can be seen protesting, “You do not rock this sh**, we’re gonna burn this sh**.”
You can hear some laughing in the background as Mtselu is given a shopping bag to put his shoes in before Riky bought him a white pair of Vans to replace the Balenciaga’s.
“I was like, ‘Naa let me take them home and I’ll keep them there’. He kept saying that I should burn them and throw them away.” Even though he felt humiliated by this whole experience he didn’t think anything would come of it.
But the following day he discovered that the video was on Riky’s Instagram Story. When he got to school, he couldn’t escape the glare of his schoolmates and has since found it difficult to escape the attention.
When the video of the incident played on eNCA a few days later, that just made the matter worse. Now, Mtshelu tries to avoid going out in public as much as possible.
Next thing he knew it had gone viral on YouTube and Twitter. A few days later, his girlfriend of 11 months dumped him.
“We’d been going through some stuff, and this just added pressure on her. She got tired of everyone asking her questions about whether they’re fake or real. She was just sick of the situation.”
There’s been mixed feelings about the incident on social media. Some have praised Riky for buying Mtshelu the Vans, while others have called him out for humiliating the kid. Mtselu believes that it was the latter.
“He was trying to be savage. If he wasn’t trying to be savage he could’ve pulled me to the side and told me, ‘This is not how you do it, here’s cash or here are some Vans,’ then walk away. Done. He did it for more faves or more views or whatever. I hate being around people now. Every corner I turn people recognise me and start laughing.”
But he doesn’t dispute that the shoes are fake, having bought them in Small street. Despite the negative attention around him right now, Mtselu hopes that somehow this incident will help him in his career as aspiring model and artist.
When contacted for comment, Riky Rick called back and said he meant no harm and that “boys will be boys”. He added that the media had blown the whole thing out of proportion.